Lupus affects people in different ways, and symptoms vary among patients. Symptoms come and go during periods called flares, when patients may experience fatigue, headaches, sensitivity to light, joint pain, facial rashes, and a range of other symptoms that depend on the specific organs affected by lupus.
When are symptoms considered a lupus flare?
It is common for patients with lupus to feel fatigue, especially if they live high-energy lifestyles. Fatigue is also one of many symptoms of a flare, making it difficult for some patients to know if their exhaustion is related to a lupus flare. During flares, patients may experience fevers, rashes (such as facial “butterfly” rashes), increased fatigue, mouth sores, and leg pains.
The Lupus Foundation of America formed an international working group to create a standardized description of a lupus flare that can be used by physicians to help patients understand and better manage the disease. The working group collaborated with the Pediatric Rheumatology International Trials Organization to conduct three surveys that collected information from lupus experts around the world. A consensus was reached for a definition of a flare:
“A flare is a measurable increase in disease activity in one or more organ systems involving new or worse clinical signs and symptoms and/or laboratory measurements. It must be considered clinically significant by the assessor and usually there would be at least consideration of a change or an increase in treatment.” –International Consensus for a Definition of Lupus Flare
In other words, a patient must experience significant changes in health to be considered flaring. This makes it difficult to use clinical thresholds to define a flare or interpret the results of a clinical trial for lupus treatment, as each patient is different. Some patients may not even display symptoms during a flare, making it essential to visit a trained physician for regular check-ins.
Children are affected in both visible and invisible ways. Visible symptoms may be unsettling for children, as they include hair loss, bloating, rashes, weight gain, and bruising. Invisible symptoms are no less uncomfortable and include muscle aches, joint pains, fatigue, memory loss, and chest pain.
Diseases with overlapping symptoms
Lupus is an inflammatory condition. Multiple autoimmune conditions have similar symptoms to lupus. For example, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients have joint pain and swelling. It is important to see a doctor to rule out the presence of other diseases or conditions.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.